The first of 270 trains in Govia Thameslink Railway’s £55 million fleet modernisation programme has returned to service with a host of new features.
The trains form the UK’s biggest fleet of ‘Electrostars’, the most common type of electric-powered train built since rail privatisation in the 1990s. The Derby-built, air-conditioned trains have been very successful
and GTR’s Electrostars have been in service for up to 20 years.
The first updated train emerged from GTR’s Selhurst Depot in south London on 5 February. Its enhancements range from new information screens, USB/power points and energy-saving LED lighting to passenger-counting technology and high-tech on-board operational systems that cut the time trains spend out of service for maintenance or repair.
The screens will display up-to-the minute GTR and London Underground service information. The passenger-counting sensors will allow GTR to better analyse how busy individual services are, helping to
adjust timetables to support essential travel and social distancing.
Bringing every train up to the same modern standards, with common features across the whole fleet, allows GTR’s engineers to streamline routine maintenance and repairs. That keeps each Electrostar out in service for longer, reducing delays and cancellations. To accelerate maintenance and improve reliability still further, a new “smart” On-Train Data Recorder will help predict and diagnose faults – which means that some problems can be fixed without returning to the depot – and CCTV cameras will film the track in front of the train to help analyse incidents that delay the service.
The £55 million programme is funded by Porterbrook, the train owner from whom GTR leases the fleets.
GTR’s Engineering Director Steve Lammin said: “These Electrostars are great trains. Taking on board our passengers’ feedback, this comprehensive upgrade will provide an even better on-board experience and more reliability. Our team at Selhurst Depot has used this first train to develop and learn all the complex processes involved in fitting the new features, guided by the trains’ manufacturer, Bombardier. We’re now testing our new knowledge on the second train, and as we gradually speed up the work, more and more passengers will notice the benefits over the coming years.